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Phoenix Pay System - Shit's Horrible

Colin Parkinson

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They remember that CPC started this ball rolling and that the CPC did "Work Force Adjustment" which was a mess and has mostly been undone by the Libs. I noticed a lot jokes about the Libs and corruption, overspending in the PS before I left. I can remember the visible relief when Chretien was booted by Harper as most of the PS was utterly disgusted by the corruption ongoing at the time. That changed with the Duffy affair. Most of the PS is worried about layoff under the CPC and attacks on pensions, etc. But the PS also realizes that we can't afford to spend at the rate the JT government is doing so. If the CPC gets in I hope it's with only a very slim majority, so they can't go full stupid, because basically both parties end up going full stupid in different ways.
 

dapaterson

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Just had a new one: an email from CRA telling me that a prior year tax return had been reassessed.

Seems that the fine folks in the Pay Office made up a new T4 for me for a prior year, and sent it to CRA.

Their business process, however, does not include the step "Tell the person whose T4 you amended".

I guess the lesson learned us that every day I should log in and look at all my prior year tax forms to see if anything new has popped up.
 

dapaterson

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In the "but uh... everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?" department, the Chief Information Officer of the Government of Canada, tasked with developing the replacement for the Phoenix Pay System, has quit to go back to working in private industry.

https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/alex-benay-exits-as-canadas-cio-joins-ai-startup-from-ottawa/420700
 

daftandbarmy

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dapaterson said:
In the "but uh... everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?" department, the Chief Information Officer of the Government of Canada, tasked with developing the replacement for the Phoenix Pay System, has quit to go back to working in private industry.

https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/alex-benay-exits-as-canadas-cio-joins-ai-startup-from-ottawa/420700

And you thought that he was a big dummy, right? ;)
 

dapaterson

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About a month ago, I received a retro payment.  Naturally, no explanation of the calculations.  All I could see was that it covered a period of about eight and a half months.

After asking nicely, they sent a detailed breakdown.  Which also includes the statement that it covers that same date range of 8 1/2 months.

But wait!  The detailed calculations they provide cover a period of just over three years!  So, which is it?  "Hello, client contact centre?"
 

dapaterson

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Oh, and that retro payment?  Part of the implementation of the last collective agreement.  Paid out nearly two years after the deadline the Government agreed to.  The last info I can find has the Union still pushing for compensation for that - but even that information is a year and a half old.

http://psacunion.ca/psac-outraged-delays-and-lack-information
 

dapaterson

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PSAC has declared that after 810 days, all retro has been paid out.

http://psacunion.ca/two-years-late-federal-government-implements

Funny... I'm still out several thousand in retro from that time, but that's mostly tied to actings never processed... or that they reversed last time they "fixed" my file.
 

daftandbarmy

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Awful....  :not-again:

Coroner blames Phoenix pay troubles in public servant's suicide

Linda Deschâtelets’s death by suicide might have been prevented if the flawed Phoenix pay system hadn’t led her to emotional and financial ruin, a Quebec coroner has found.

Deschâtelets died in December of 2017, at age 52. At the time she was struggling with chronic pain and massive mortgage
payments.

The fear of losing her home weighed heavily on her. In her final text message to one of her sons she said she had run out of energy and wanted to die before she lost her house in Val des Monts.

But Deschâtelets might have lived, says a report from coroner Pascale Boulay, if her employer, the Canada Revenue Agency, had shown a little empathy.

“During the final months before her death, she experienced serious financial troubles linked to the federal government’s pay system, Phoenix, which cut off her pay in a significant way, making her fear she would lose her house,” said Boulay’s report.
“A thorough analysis of this case strongly suggests that this death could have been avoided if a search for a solution to the current financial, psychological and medical situation had been made.”

Boulay found “there is no indication that management sought to meet Ms. Deschâtelets to offer her options. In addition, the lack of prompt follow-up in the processing of requests for information indicates a distressing lack of empathy for an employee who is experiencing real financial insecurity.”

Pay records “indeed show that she was living through serious financial problems and that she received irregular payments since the
beginning of October 2017,” the coroner wrote.

As well, “her numerous online applications using the form for a compensation problem, in which she expresses her fear of not being able to make her mortgage payments and says that she wants a detailed statement of account, remain unanswered.”
On top of that, she had chronic back pain and sciatica and had been missing work. She was scheduled to get an ergonomically designed work area, but this change was never made even though she waited for months.

Money troubles kept getting worse.

She ran out of paid sick leave, and her department sent her an email to explain that she had automatically been docked pay for taking sick days. “In this same email, she was also advised that in the event that she missed additional days, other amounts would be deducted. No further follow-up with her was done,” the coroner wrote.
That email came eight days before her death.

She was already deep in debt. Her credit rating was very low. And on top of everything else, she had taken out a consumer loan in 2015 to cover her mortgage payments, and the loan agreement specified that she would default on the loan if she missed a single payment. So when Phoenix problems arose, she had nowhere to turn for money.

Deschâtelets was also taking cocaine but this did not alter the fact that she genuinely risked losing her home over her financial problems, the coroner wrote.

“Given the circumstances, it is highly likely that Ms. Deschâtelets felt trapped” and ended her life “because of her belief that she would lose the house anyway. It was only a matter of time.”

The situation is “even more sad” because CRA still had advisers on site who dealt with Phoenix issues, and could meet with employees instead of making them deal with the pay centre in New Brunswick, Boulay wrote.

“The federal government does a lot of promotion of workplace wellness. Surprisingly, these wellness measures are silent on the subject of financial insecurity at work,” Boulay wrote.

CRA provided this newspaper with a statement Thursday evening writing:

“We are deeply saddened by the death of any valued member of our community and we again wish to offer our sincere condolences
to Ms. Deschâtelets’s family and loved ones.

We are carefully reviewing the coroner’s investigation report, and the recommendations made in it, and we will review our processes and approach accordingly.

The CRA cannot provide more comments on this topic at this time”

The National Standard of Canada on Psychological Safety in the Workplace, developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, is only voluntary for the federal government. Boulay wrote that following it “would allow for serious reflection on how to do human resources and compensation services in the federal government.

The national president of PSAC said Thursday the case illustrates the mental toll of Phoenix, where there is still a backlog of 228,000 employees with wrong paycheques.

“We fully agree with what this coroner is recommending, in making it mandatory for the federal departments to follow the Canadian standard for psychological safety in the workplace,” Chris Aylward said.

“It’s a terrible tragedy. We know. We did a cross-country tour… and we heard from our members right across the country, saying they are at the breaking point,” not only being paid the wrong amounts, but not knowing in advance what the next paycheque will be.
“We did a survey of our membership … and 76 per cent of our members said the Phoenix fiasco has affected their mental health.”
“It highlights unfortunately the stress and the mental fatigue that our members have gone through and continue to go through because of Phoenix.”

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/coroner-blames-phoenix-pay-troubles-in-public-servants-suicide
 

dapaterson

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#PeakPSPC

Today I decided to send in a note to the folks who run one of the three ways to view your pay as a public servant: There's Phoenix proper (aka Government of Canada customized PeopleSoft payroll North America); there's a new interface called MyGCPay that actually includes a fair bit of useful information presented in a way that's easily understood; and there's the Compensation Web Applications (CWA) which is generally more useful than Phoenix in providing some details of what's actually in your pay.

Last payrun (last week) I received seven paycheques - my regular pay (at the correct rate for the first time in over 2 1/2 years!); two small retro payments; and four zero paycheques, each one representing a different correction of past errors.  (Sidebar: If you were paid at the wrong rate in the past, Phoenix can't do a "Pay the difference" transaction; rather, they have to cancel the prior payment and then two weeks later issue the correct payment).

However, the CWA paycheque list only shows one of the four zero pays I received.  So, I clicked on the handy "contact us" link, clicked on the smail address on that page (rather than calling in the issue), typed up an email explaining what happened, clicked "send"... and within seconds got an automated reply: Error 550, which means "hey, guess what, that email address doesn't exist".

I guess that's one way to reduce the number of complaints: give out an email address that doesn't exist.
 

dapaterson

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And in the "ongoing pursuit of excellence" department, there's a phone number as well as an email address provided.  Upon dialling the number, I received that old favourite reply "We're sorry the number dialled is not in service.  Please check the number or try your call again.  This is a recording."

 

dapaterson

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Should be a fun 2020.  So far this year, I have been issued updated T4s for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2016 again.  And it's not even two weeks into January.

Oh, and the business processes for Phoenix are such that I only found out about this by accident; there's nothing to alert you that a new T4 was issued and sent to CRA.  You may not learn about it until CRA tells you that they have reassessed your taxes.
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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This must be some kind of 60's style LSD human experiment.....except the goal is to see how far they can try a groups patience before they either snap, or band together and rise up to fight/overthrow.
 

daftandbarmy

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Bruce Monkhouse said:
This must be some kind of 60's style LSD human experiment.....except the goal is to see how far they can try a groups patience before they either snap, or band together and rise up to fight/overthrow.

The Golden Handcuffs are a powerful sedative :)
 

daftandbarmy

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Or, IOW, when insult meets injury....


Information about 69,000 Phoenix pay system victims sent in error

More than 69,000 public servants caught up in the Phoenix pay system debacle are now victims of a privacy breach after their personal information was accidentally emailed to the wrong people, says Public Services and Procurement Canada.

The problem-plagued electronic payroll system has improperly paid tens of thousands of public servants since its launch in 2016. Some employees have gone months with little or no pay, while others have been overpaid, sometimes for months at a time.

As the government has struggled to fix the system, Public Services and Procurement Canada has been sending departmental heads of human resources and chief financial officers reports every two weeks listing employee overpayments.

Earlier this month, a report naming 69,087 public servants was accidentally emailed to the wrong federal departments.

The report included the employees' full names, their personal record identifier numbers, home addresses and overpayment amounts.

More than 161 chief financial officers and 62 heads of HR in 62 departments received the report in error, according to a statement posted to Public Services and Procurement Canada's website on Monday.

The department said it took steps to contain and destroy the information and notified the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

It also said affected employees will be notified in the coming days. The department has stopped the distribution of overpayment reports pending the results of the investigation.

"Our government takes privacy concerns and the protection of personal information very seriously and it is top of mind in the work we do at PSPC," said Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand in an email to CBC News.

"We will take steps to ensure that this does not happen again and fully reevaluate the way in which personal information is stored and used."

Public Services and Procurement Canada isn't the only department to accidentally breach the confidentiality of workers' personal information.

According to figures recently tabled in the House of Commons, federal departments or agencies mishandled personal information belonging to 144,000 Canadians over the past two years.

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has long called out "strong indications of systemic under-reporting" of privacy breaches across government.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/phoenix-pay-system-privacy-breach-1.5466855?ref=mobilerss&cmp=newsletter_CBC%20British%20Columbia_472_1168
 

BeyondTheNow

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Insult to injury indeed...

My husband has been waiting over 2yrs for monies owing. In addition to Phoenix and other concerning matters, working without contracts since OCT 2016 is a major point of contention.

The strike vote for UTE (Union of Taxation Employees; part of PSAC for those unaware) is 03-MAR-20. Shawinigan started voting yesterday, and subsequent voting is scheduled almost every day until 01-APR. It's expected to be a result in favour of striking. Should that be the case, hopefully it doesn't actually come to that and parties reach an agreement before strikes begin, like what occurred 4yrs ago.

We can’t afford him receiving strike pay.
 

daftandbarmy

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BeyondTheNow said:
Insult to injury indeed...

My husband has been waiting over 2yrs for monies owing. In addition to Phoenix and other concerning matters, working without contracts since OCT 2016 is a major point of contention.

The strike vote for UTE (Union of Taxation Employees; part of PSAC for those unaware) is 03-MAR-20. Shawinigan started voting yesterday, and subsequent voting is scheduled almost every day until 01-APR. It's expected to be a result in favour of striking. Should that be the case, hopefully it doesn't actually come to that and parties reach an agreement before strikes begin, like what occurred 4yrs ago.

We can’t afford him receiving strike pay.

Just wondering... has anyone launched a class action Charter challenge, or something like that, over Phoenix yet?
 

dapaterson

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The PSLRA stacks the deck against federal employees, severely limiting their ability to act.  An underlying assumption of the act is Good Faith; I don't think anyone ever thought the GoC would / could behave this badly.
 

daftandbarmy

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dapaterson said:
The PSLRA stacks the deck against federal employees, severely limiting their ability to act.  An underlying assumption of the act is Good Faith; I don't think anyone ever thought the GoC would / could behave this badly.

Pffftttt.... there's nothing like an outraged, really smart, personal injury lawyer who is wound up tight and pointed in the right direction  ;D
 

dapaterson

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Currently there is an action for unrepresented employees.  But when you write the laws that govern labour relations, they oddly enough end up somewhat one-sided.

(One could compare the immediate outrage, closure of rail traffic, temporary shutdown of international border crossings within days... with the un-reaction of public service unions, years in - perhaps even note that if one side refuses to play by the rules, the other side might want to make similar decisions)
 

Attie3

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I looked into the class action. It's only for casual employment and students. Any terms or perms are not able to join the class action as we have the  grievance process.

For my case, it didn't help at all. I ended up just going on a payment plan.

Sigh..

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